On Saturday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that there have been increased departures from Libya. This is linked to the higher number of migrants attempting the often-dangerous routes by sea. The trend might be indicative of the economic hardships migrants experience due to the COVID-19 restrictions and the reduced employment opportunities that have followed from such restrictions.
In its annual report, the IOM said that unemployment rate among migrants, who have recently arrived in Libya, increased to 22% in 2020. Unemployed migrants face food insecurity, financial issues and a lack of safe drinking water compared to working migrants.
In 2020, hundreds of migrants were rescued from warehouses managed by various smuggling/ trafficking rings where they faced abuse at the hands of these organized groups.
Currently, the prevailing narrative focuses primarily on migrants in detention, the dangers of irregular migration (exploitation and abuse) and the dangers along the Central Mediterranean Route. However, the latest IOM data indicates that less than 1% of the total number of migrants in Libya is in detention. The main characteristic of Libya, with respect to migration, is that it continues to be a country of destination.
IOM Libya must pursue opportunities to implement programmes promoting cultural diversity, social cohesion between migrants and host community, as well as raising awareness about the role played by migrants in Libya, socially and economically.
Future programmes will aim to challenge stereotypes, fight xenophobia and highlight the benefits cultural diversity offers. It will include cooperating with the government of Libya in developing inclusive migration policies in line with best international practices.
Furthermore, a key step forward is changing a certain negative narrative regarding migration in Libya, based on a sustainable social debate building on the positive impact and the added value of migration.
Building an accurate picture of the situation migrants face in Libya requires effective external communication.